Son’s plea after dad dies alone

South Africa - Lockdown - Pretoria - 29 March 2020 - A picture of hand glove and a face mask that symbolises the prevention of the spread of the deadly Coronavirus shot on the bacground of a graffitti that says God Bless Africa at corner Nelson Mandela drive and Helen Joseph street. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

A Rocklands man is pleading with the community to adhere to national lockdown regulations after his father died in hospital of Covid-19.

In a Facebook post on Sunday May 10, Abdul Maliek Fagodien details his experience of dropping his 70-year-old father, from Sherwood Park, off at Melomed Gatesville Mediclinic on Sunday April 26.

The post has since gone viral on social media, including WhatsApp.

His dad was buried more than a week later.

Mr Fagodien’s siblings had asked that their father not be named in the media.

Speaking to the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday May 12, Mr Fagodien said: “People don’t know how serious this Covid-19 is. We don’t know where he got infected.”

Mr Fagodien said the sad part was that his father died without any family member at his bedside. “We couldn’t say our last goodbyes. We couldn’t open up to see his face for the last time.”

Mr Fagodien said he would go to the hospital to drop off goods and food at the main entrance of the hospital, which a porter or nurse would take to his father.

Two days before taking his father to hospital, his dad told Mr Fagodien during their weekly call that he had the flu. “I didn’t take much note but on the Sunday it clicked – my dad has Covid-19, he had shortness of breath and he was nauseous,” recalled Mr Fagodien.

His dad could walk to the car but was put in a wheelchair on arrival at the entrance of the trauma unit at the hospital.

He showed symptoms of Covid-19 on arrival at hospital, tested positive and also had a kidney infection.

He did not want to be in hospital and Mr Fagodien had to motivate and encourage him during daily telephone calls to stay calm and to understand why he had to stay in hospital.

His dad was last in hospital about three years ago, to have a pacemaker inserted at Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Days before he died, his breathing became more laboured and his children found it difficult to hear him.

“He would say a word and then struggle to breathe.”

Moments before he was due to be put on a ventilator he died.

Mr Fagodien said: “Just remember if you are infected with Covid-19 you will have no one by your side, except the doctors and nursing staff. Remember if your child, your spouse, parent or sibling gets infected no one is allowed to enter the hospital. They will suffer alone.”

Due to strict hospital protocol, no visitors and escorts are allowed in the hospital, except under authorised circumstances.

The deceased’s body was shrouded according to Islamic burial rites, which was sealed in an airtight see-through body bag and taken to Klip Road Muslim cemetery.

Mr Fagodien said about 15 family members were at his father’s graveside and other family members and friends were asked not to attend his janaaza.

His son said they adhered to strict physical distancing, wore masks and gloves.

“My father was a well-known and respected member of the community. We had to tell people not to come to the janaaza,” he said.

Mr Fagodien said in his Rocklands neighbourhood people were roaming the streets as if it was a holiday. Children play in the streets during the day and at night.

“Keep your children inside – you don’t know who’s got the virus, that is the scary part. Stop being so ignorant and stay at home. Just go out when necessary and get used to sanitising,” he said.

Mr Fagodien thanked the hospital staff and all essential workers for sacrificing their lives and their families to help serve the sick.

Mr Fagodien’s Covid-19 test results were negative on two occasions – on Freedom Day Monday April 27 and Thursday May 7.

He encourages the community to speak about their experiences and share their status so people can be aware of the virus.

“It is not something to be ashamed of. Perhaps people would be less arrogant, keep their children indoors and stay at home. Stop the social gathering and parties,” he said.

Shameema Adams, Melomed Hospital Holdings marketing manager, said they comply with the Disaster Risk Management Act and report all Covid-19 positive cases to the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

All Covid-19 deaths are reported to the Department of Health, NICD and Department of Environmental Affairs.

“This invisible virus is voracious, and at Melomed hospitals we take all the necessary safety precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus – one of them is restricting all visitors to the Melomed hospitals,” she said.

They were the first hospital group to restrict visitors into hospitals in the first week of March, when they realised that the virus was spreading in the community and no longer a virus linked to international travel.

“Melomed’s first priority is the protection of its patients, staff and doctors and therefore we have instituted additional safety measures at our hospitals. Our aim is to educate and bring about awareness to the public regarding this Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Ms Adams expressed their deepest condolences to the family. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time and we pray the Almighty grants him a high place in paradise,” she said.

At the time of going to print, the Mitchell’s Plain health substructure, including Woodlands, Lentegeur, Montrose Park, Weltevreden, Tafelsig, Montclair, Beacon Valley, and Rocklands, had 509 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Monique Johnstone, principal communications officer for Western Cape Health Klipfontein / Mitchell’s Plain substructure, confirmed that 11 people from Mitchell’s Plain were in quarantine in state facilities but due to patient confidentiality could not disclose the locations.

“We do not have any patients in the ICU (intensive care unit) at Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital,” she said.

Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital has a triage and testing tent, and in-patient services.

At a primary health care and community-based care level, staff are conducting daily community screening and testing and door-to-door screening in various areas in Mitchell’s Plain.

Once tested, people are instructed to self-isolate at home until their results are returned from the laboratory.

All patients presenting to a healthcare facility are being screened for symptoms of the virus as per Western Cape Government Health protocol, to ensure the safety of all patients and staff.

If the acute presentation of a patient requires immediate and life-threatening healthcare, the facility will manage it as needed.